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Clipper inks landmark handymax deal

Shanghai: Clipper Group has placed an order for twelve 30,000dwt handysize bulkers costing what is thought to be $300m. The owner has opted to try out Tsuji Heavy Industries' Chinese subsidiary in Jiangsu province 100 km up the Yangtze from Shanghai to build the ships, which will be to Clipper's Trader design.


The deal is Clipper's largest to date as well as Tsuji's first newbuilds at its Chinese facility, which so far has been been a hatch cover and building block manufacturer.


Danish-headquartered and Bahamas-registered Clipper Group now has 60 ships on order. As established yards have basked in record orderbooks and, by and large, shunned smaller bulk types, Clipper has been led to try out this untested yard. The group also has bulkers on order in developing shipbuilding nations like India.


'The significance of this deal is that it is the first substantial order of handysize bulkers for some time and the fact that Clipper have had to go to a relatively inexperienced facility reflects how difficult it has become to build handysize bulkers and how owners in this sector have to think outside the box to satisfy their newbuilding requirements,' shipbroker Clarkson said in a weekly Asian report.


The other hugely significant development with this deal is up until now the Chinese government has not allowed any locally incorporated subsidiary wholly owned by a foreign company to engage in the construction of general merchant ships. Foreign firms had been required to set up equally-owned joint ventures with Chinese concerns, something that made many shipbuilders steer clear of the mainland for investments. Singaporean owned Yantai Raffles in the north of China only builds offshore equipment, not ships. If Tsuji proves to be not a one off, then many other Japanese and Korean yards will follow suit.  [17.07.06]

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